An Oxygen Express train carrying three tankers of liquid medical oxygen arrived in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday morning via a green corridor as the state battled a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The train arrived from Bokaro in Jharkhand.
In view of the high demand for oxygen in the country following a record spike in coronavirus cases, the Railways has decided to run Oxygen Express trains to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across the country.
Tankers are being transported on flat wagons by the trains for quick supply of medical oxygen.
Two tankers of medical oxygen arrived in Lucknow around 6.30 am while one was offloaded in Varanasi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi told PTI.
Each tanker has a capacity of 15,000 litres, he said, adding that oxygen brought by two tankers may be used in Lucknow.
The arrival of two tankers will meet around half the demand of Lucknow for Saturday, Awasthi said.
The state capital will now be in a better position. The second Oxygen Express train departed at around 5.30 am from Lucknow for Bokaro with four tankers,” Awasthi said.
Varanasi District Magistrate of Kaushal Raj Sharma said a tanker carrying 14,000 litres of liquid medical oxygen arrived there.
The Railways on Wednesday had said it will run a second Oxygen Express train to Uttar Pradesh after a request was received from the state government.
Upon the arrival of the train, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a tweet said, “The Indian Railways is called the lifeline of the country. The Oxygen Express train that arrived in Lucknow and Varanasi due to efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an example of this.”
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh said, “The arrival of Oxygen Express train will significantly ease the situation in the state.”
In view of the rising demand for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients, the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday appointed three senior officers at the COVID Command Centre to deal with the supply of the life-saving gas to hospitals in the state.
CM Adityanath also launched a dedicated website, ‘Oxytracker’, for transparent availability of oxygen to hospitals, the state government said.
Through this, the movement of oxygen tankers can be monitored, Awasthi said. Software’s dashboard will analyse and inform if the tanker is getting delayed,” he added.
Awasthi said that an app will be designed that will be downloaded on the mobile phone of all oxygen tanker drivers. Through this app, their mobile phone will act as a GPS and their location will be traced, he said.
Awasthi said a request has been sent for the requisitioning of a cargo aircraft from the Air Force.
We may get two aircraft very soon for a quick transportation of empty tankers, he said.
Elaborating on the operational aspect of the train, Sanjay Tripathi, Divisional Railway Manager (Northern Railway-Lucknow), told PTI that the whole process of bringing the oxygen supply to the state took 46 hours.
The train had left for Bokaro on Thursday and returned with supplies on Saturday, almost half the time taken through road, he said.
“The train operated non-stop and a green corridor was created for it. A GRP team escorted the train,” he said.
The UP Government in a statement issued here said that oxygen is being supplied to the state from Modinagar, Kashipur, Panipat and Roorkee.